TNT big man Kelly Williams is enjoying a resurgence of sorts this early in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup, and a big part of that has to do with the entry of first-year coach Nash Racela.
The 34-year-old Williams continues to turn back the hands of Father Time after tallying his first double-double performance in the season-opening conference on Friday night, leading the KaTropa to an impressive 117-98 win over skidding Phoenix at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Inserted into the starting lineup anew, Williams made his presence felt as he pumped in all but two his game-high 18 points in the first half while adding 10 rebounds, one assist and a steal against a lone error in nearly 20 minutes of efficient play.
And the 2008 PBA MVP readily admitted that he’s just eager to repay the trust being given to him by Racela, a long-serving assistant of the KaTropa, who was elevated to the full-time coaching post in the off-season.
“I think a lot of it has to do with coach Nash and him knowing me as a player, putting me in a position to succeed, putting me in a position to maximize me as a player. And for me as a player, that trust helps me with my confidence,” said the Oakland U product.
Racela’s familiarity with his style of play has been making Williams more effective than before.
“I can say that about coach Nash because he’s been with me since 2010 even with the other coaches, so he knows me as a player, my strengths. And his emphasis is to put me in a position where I can exercise those strengths. And it’s helping me a lot,” he added.
While he took charge on the offensive end for the first time this season, Williams admitted that he’s just willing to help the KaTropa on whatever way he can.
“I know what the team needs. And personally, I know I can score. I can do all the things I’ve done before, but whatever the team needs, that’s always what I’m thinking of before every game,” he stressed. “What do they need of me? And majority of the time it’s defensive rebounding, so I try to focus on that and whatever else comes, it’s a bonus for me.”
For sure, the KaTropa have been thriving on Racela’s system that puts more emphasis on a balanced offensive attack and a sustained defensive pressure.
However, TNT, now toting a 3-2 mark in a tie with Blackwater at fourth spot, can still get better as the season progresses.
“The guys are being more conscious of maximizing their minutes on the court and being in tune with what they need to do for the team. We’re slowly getting there. We’re improving, but we have a long way to go still,” said Williams.
“And just the fact that all the guys are working hard and doing the best they can, I’m just trying to maximize my minutes when I’m out there.” – Jerome Lagunzad
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